Louisville offers Alabama standouts

Safety Chris Hughes and defensive tackle Pat McNeil are squarely on Louisville's recruiting radar. Last week, Louisville offered the talented Mobile (AL) Davidson teammates – positioning the Cardinals firmly in mix with both prospects.

Chris Hughes, a high intensity defender, could become a top-notch prospect if his academic test scores rise. He already holds two offers from South Carolina and Louisville, which sent an offer last week.

"I didn't even know Louisville was recruiting me until I found out they had offered me," Hughes said. "I'll probably go to Louisville for a visit though."

A talented prospect with gifted athleticism, Hughes projects as a safety at the college level.

"Chris is a 6-1, 214-pound linebacker/safety," Davidson coach Fred Riley said. "He played inside backer for us as a junior but is going to play safety for us his senior year. He ran 4.37 at the Nike camp combine in Mobile in January. He's a super football player that's just got a couple of things to get done academically. His ACT right now is a 14. He's got some work to do there but we've got a plan in place to make sure he qualifies."

Hughes enjoyed an outstanding junior season, recording 118 tackles, two caused fumbles and three interceptions. His talent isn't in question and that's why Louisville and South Carolina have offered and several SEC programs are tracking his academic progress. If he improves his ACT scores, schools like Florida would likely make a move for his signature.

"South Carolina has said they would sign him and put him in Hargrave or Fork Union if he doesn't qualify," Riley said. "Florida was just here (Thursday). They have not formally offered him and are holding off to see what his next set of scores look like. Florida is very interested in him and that's about where everybody is."

Chris Hughes

Louisville is hoping an early offer to Hughes will be rewarded later in the process if he qualifies academically. "Louisville has gone ahead and said ‘we want this guy and we'll be one of the first schools to offer him,'" Riley said. "Maybe he'll remember that in the long run."

"At one point Florida was probably my leader now it's a toss-up between all the schools recruiting me," Hughes said. "I'm looking for a school that can get me support in the classroom because that's where I need some help."

The Cardinals also have extended an offer to one of Hughes' teammates, defensive tackle Pat McNeil. Louisville's offer is McNeil's first, though several SEC programs are also keeping a close watch. McNeil recorded 76 tackles and 12 hurries last season as a junior.

"Pat McNeil is the younger brother of Michael McNeil, who is the starting safety at Auburn," Riley said. "Patrick is 6-2, 275 and a five-flat (forty) kid. He's already a qualifier and already has a 20 ACT. All he has to do is graduate from high school because his core is already complete."

Could Louisville be in line for a possible package deal with both Hughes and McNeil?

"He was excited that they offered but I believe it's a little too far for him," Hughes said of McNeil's reaction to Louisville's offer. "But it's still a possibility that we could go to the same school."

Davidson has a track record of producing BCS-caliber prospects in recent years, sending players all over the ACC and SEC.

"I've been here six years and Louisville as always been down here going back to Joe Whitt," said Riley. "Historically when our kids have gone off to college they've been successful and that's why schools continue to recruit here. I like turning on the TV and seeing Davidson kids playing."

Louisville came through right before Davidson's spring practice to check out both Hughes and McNeil. Last week, the Cards pulled the trigger on offers to both players. "They called last Friday and said they were going to offer both of these guys," Riley said. "I think the quote from the defensive coordinator was he hadn't seen anybody throw his body around like Hughes does in a long time. He's very fearless how he plays the game."

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